The prostitution of two Joplin television stations continued tonight as Nexstar continued its effort to obliterate every last bit of dignity its newscasts at KODE and KSNF possess.
While KOAM was beginning its newscasts with hard-hitting stories about events that actually mean something to people in the four states, Nexstar elected to sacrifice the first two minutes of its newscasts on KODE and KSNF at both 6 and 10 p.m. for a self-serving editorial by Larry Young, news director for both stations.
The two minutes were devoted to a defense of Nexstar's stand depriving Joplin's Cable One and soon the Cox cable systems in Carthage and Lamar. People who tuned in to KODE or KSNF hoping to see news, instead saw a rehash of the critical advertising Nexstar has been running since this mess started.
The only difference is, this time Nexstar trotted out the head of its news division, not the head of the business side, to make the point. So long, credibility. It was nice to know you.
There is nothing inherently wrong with television stations running editorials though not many do it any more. Perhaps even an editorial on this topic would be permissible...if the news department had been allowed to fairly cover the story instead of being ordered to act like trained monkeys playing to the tune played by Nexstar's COO and organ grinder Duane Lammers.
Instead, we saw crawls running at the bottom of the screen during the newscasts, drawing no distinction between the two stations' business interests and their journalistic professionalism. We saw a clearly staged protest being covered as if it were legitimate news, with no information given on its origins. We heard testimonials to satellite dish companies being given as part of the news and not just during the commercials.
The simultaneous editorials clearly pointed out the dangers in having one company in charge of two TV stations in a small market. They clearly pointed out to us that one man, Larry Young, is the news director, for both stations. If FCC rules allowed it, it is obvious Nexstar would be happy just to cut half of its staff and run the same news on both stations with the same on-air personnel. It would save a lot of money and, as events have shown, money is the name of the game.
The editorial would have been better had it not been placed at the beginning of the newscast. That showed viewers that Nexstar was placing its business needs ahead of its viewers' needs. Consider how many important news stories for this area have not been accompanied by editorials. Correct me if I am wrong, but I recall no editorials from KODE or KSNF when our local soldiers were sent to Iraq. I recall no editorials from either station when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked on Sept. 11. I recall no editorials when Congressman Gene Taylor died in August 1998. The list goes on and on.
The only thing that brought about an editorial from Nexstar was when its own bottom line was damaged by the loss of Cable One customers and the potential loss of cable customers from Carthage and Lamar.
What Nexstar has done is something that people, including me, would have thought impossible just a few weeks ago. It is easy to feel some sympathy for the cable companies. If it's not Duane Lammers making veiled (and direct) threats to cable companies, it's overbearing advertising, and revisionist history that makes it sound like the only reason people ever bought cable TV was to get local stations. We're not stupid. Those stations were free. We wanted them on our cable service and they were important, but we were already getting those stations for free, so we bought cable service to be able to see stations such as CNN, ESPN, Weather Channel, C-SPAN, USA Network, country music channels, movie channels, MTV, and so many others that we could not get any other way. We do have a choice now for those stations, satellite or cable, but people resent having this choice shoved down their throats.
I feel bad for the professionals on the news teams as KODE and KSNF. I have known Jim Jackson, KSN's anchor for a long time. He was kind enough to speak to my classes when I was teaching at Diamond Middle School. I have always admired the professional work he has done in this area, including a stretch of years two decades ago when he was the only saving grace of an overall weak telecast. He has been kind enough to say a nice word or two about me over the years and those words were much appreciated.
What Duane Lammers and the people at Nexstar have done to Jim Jackson and the rest of the highly capable news teams at KSNF and KODE has been detestable. They deserve better.
So do we.
Now that I have led off my report with an editorial (you may call it hypocrisy, I call it poetic justice), let's move on to some other things. One of the professionals whose work has been overshadowed by the High Noon antics between the cable companies and Nexstar is KSNF's Courtney Cullor, whose solid coverage of tonight's Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting, covered succinctly and effectively the highlights of the meeting.
I apologize for missing the name of the reporter but KOAM's sports staff turned out a fine feature on a 26-year-old MSSU basketball player who is living up to his promise to his mother to graduate from college. It was great television. And it wasn't a flash in the pan either. Yesterday, KOAM had an excellent feature about a girl wrestler competing against boys.
Lamar Heights voters will decide on a motel tax issue if a bill submitted by Rep. Ed Emery works its way through the Missouri Legislature. HB 186 allows a city with a population of more than 200 and less than 300 (Lamar Heights) to impose a room tax of not more than six percent and a food tax of not more than two percent, with all of the money going toward construction, materials, and/or capital improvements. The issue would require a simple majority to pass. The first reading of the bill was held today. No hearings have been scheduled.
Among those attending the inauguration of Missouri Governor Matt Blunt Monday, no surprise here, was his father, Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt. One of the younger Blunt's first acts as governor was to rescind dozens of appointments made by the outgoing governor, Bob Holden, on Jan. 5. Holden knew those appointments would never go through. He ended his term as governor the same one he spent the greatest part of it...wasting the taxpayers' time and money.